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Arch Sex Behav. 2003 Jun;32(3):231-42.

The relation between mood and sexuality in gay men.

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The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-3700, USA.


Negative mood, such as depression and anxiety, is usually associated with a decrease in sexual interest and responsiveness. In a minority of individuals, the reverse applies, often with an associated tendency to use sex as a mood regulator. In homosexual men, the prevalence of depression and anxiety states is increased, and the relationship between negative mood and sexuality is, therefore, of particular interest. A new brief instrument, The Mood and Sexuality Questionnaire, was administered to a sample of 662 gay men, with other trait measures of depression and anxiety, propensity for sexual inhibition and sexual excitation, sensation seeking, and questions about sexual activity and response. Sixteen percent reported that, when depressed, they typically experienced increased sexual interest with 7% reporting increased capacity for erectile response; 47% and 37% reported a decrease, respectively; the remainder reported no change. When experiencing anxiety, 24% reported that they typically experienced increased sexual interest, with 14% reporting increased responsiveness, and 39% and 31% reporting a decrease. Forty-three men were interviewed in depth. The resulting qualitative data showed depression to have a more complex relationship to sexual interest than anxiety; other mediating mechanisms, such as need for intimacy and self-validation, were sometimes involved. Fourteen percent of those interviewed reported reduced concern about sexual risk when depressed. Paradoxical increases in sexual interest or activity during negative mood states are relevant to high risk sexual behavior among gay men, and deserve closer study.

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